Sports, leisure and the Arts Withington Conservation Area

Control of development

Development control in the Withington conservation area is aimed at encouraging development which enhances the prosperity of the area, whilst paying attention to its special architectural and visual qualities.

Where the replacement or refurbishment of buildings is contemplated, property owners and developers should be aware of the characteristics which make buildings interesting, and ensure that the proposals are designed to respect and relate to them. Building heights vary moderately within the area, and heights of proposed developments should be kept within those limits and not normally exceed the height of their immediate surroundings.

Most development proposals will require planning permission. Minor works on listed buildings, such as painting walls, will also require the prior approval of the City Council. Generally the painting of brick or stone should not be considered, as it adversely affects the character of the building and can accelerate deterioration of the masonry.

Other minor works to listed buildings which require consent include replacement of windows if they alter the appearance of a building. Most alterations to listed buildings require Listed Building Consent. The South Area Team will be willing to give advice on such matters, which should be sought at an early stage.

Demolition of buildings in a conservation area generally requires specific permission known as 'Conservation Area Consent'. It is anticipated that most new building proposals will be designed to replace existing structures. Existing buildings of architectural or townscape merit should not be demolished if they can conceivably be restored or adapted to present day uses. Applicants requesting Conservation Area Consent to demolish will be required to show that restoration or adaptation are not feasible.

As occurs in so many suburban shopping centres, the floors above the ground floor shops are frequently left unoccupied, which can lead to deterioration of the building fabric. The use of these spaces for storage, offices or residential purposes will be encouraged.

Of particular concern in conservation area is the need to ensure that building designers consider new development in its context. This may mean that the scheme for a proposed building is shown in relation to an entire street, or as viewed down long vistas, especially if the site is seen from the junction of two streets. It will assist designers of proposed buildings to take the setting into account rather than evolving a design which has no clear relationship with buildings nearby.

In line with other shopping streets, new development proposals should generally be aligned to the back of pavement in order to preserve the linear character of the street. Replacement shopfronts require planning consent, and signs usually require advertisement consent, also obtainable from the South Area Team. Internally illuminated box signs would not normally be satisfactory, whereas individual letter or painted signs would usually be acceptable.

The retention of garden walls and gateposts will be encouraged, but where they are to be reconstructed, consent is required if they front a public highway and exceed one metre in height. Elsewhere, walls of up to two metres may normally be built without permission.

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